Too little, too late as Minstermen start to plot a way back

MIXED feelings engulfed York City players and fans on Tuesday night.

What a goal: Yorks Luke Summerfield, right, celebrates putting his side 3-0 up against Portsmouth. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Pride at putting in their best performance of a very long and difficult season as Portsmouth’s promotion hopes were dealt a big blow at Bootham Crescent.

But, amidst that sense of pride, there was also a realisation that even as resounding a victory as the one just achieved against Paul Cook’s Pompey was a case of too little, too late for the Minstermen.

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Relegation from the Football League may not be mathematically guaranteed but the club’s four-year stint in the fourth tier is as good as over.

Nine points separate York from third-bottom Newport County with three games remaining. Factor in the Welsh club having a vastly superior goal difference and Jackie McNamara’s side seem certain to kick off next season back in the National League.

“It was our best performance for a long time,” said Luke Summerfield, scorer of City’s third goal against Pompey with a quite stunning 30-yard effort.

“Even 3-1 didn’t really do us justice, we had a lot of chances to put it to bed before the end. We knew there was a performance like that in us.

“But we have been the cause of our own downfall, really. Too many mistakes individually and we haven’t played enough in a full game.

“It makes it hard, considering where we are, to have a performance like that, even though it is nice to win. The way we won was a massive positive. But there are bigger things than just winning a game.”

York travel to Accrington Stanley, who moved up to second on Tuesday night, this weekend as Newport head to Luton Town.

Even a point for County at Kenilworth Road will be enough to condemn the Minstermen to the drop and leave supporters once again digging out the route maps for Southport, Chester and Woking.

The target, of course, will be an instant return. Cheltenham Town have shown the way forward this year by romping to the title just 12 months after slipping out of the League.

They have done so by totally overhauling the squad at Whaddon Road, as underlined by the starting XI on the opening day of 2015-16 featuring not even one player who had been at the club three months earlier.

Last season, Bristol Rovers also bounced back immediately following relegation so it is clear that York can plot a route back.

McNamara will surely be helped by working with what is effectively a blank canvas this summer. All but a handful of players are out of contract, a fact underlined by just Scott Flinders and James Berrett of the starting XI against Pompey having deals with the club for next season along with just one of the substitutes, Matty Dixon.

As for the rest of a squad that has won just seven times in 43 league outings, only time will tell what the future holds.

Summerfield, for one, is not against staying at Bootham Crescent, even though he admits a desire to remain a League player.

“I have loved every minute in York,” said the midfielder. “I love the city and have a great girlfriend here. I am very settled.

“But, football is strange and I don’t know what is around the corner. I don’t know what my future holds.

“I am not stubborn enough to say I won’t play there (the National League). I am 28 years old and believe I still have my best years ahead of me.

“I definitely still want to play in the Football League. But, whatever happens, happens. I want to be at the highest level and feel I can do a great job in this league or the one above. But I am not against staying.”

League 2 – Bottom

P W D L F A Pts

Hartlepool 43 15 6 22 49 63 51

Notts County 43 13 9 21 52 76 48

Crawley Town 43 13 8 22 45 71 47

Yeovil 43 10 14 19 38 54 44

Morecambe 43 12 8 23 66 85 44

Stevenage 43 10 13 20 48 66 43

Newport County 43 10 12 21 42 61 42

York 43 7 12 24 49 79 33

Dag & Red 43 6 10 27 39 77 28